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Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 19:20 GMT
Fighting mars Matthews' tribute

Violence erupte
Violence erupts in the stands

Hooligans marred a tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews at his former club Stoke City on Saturday when violence erupted between rival supporters.

Fighting broke out minutes after fans had stood in silence to honour Sir Stanley's memory.

An injured woman An injured woman is carried away after violence flared
Play in the Second Division match between Stoke and Wigan Athletic was held up for eight minutes after fighting erupted.

The players had to be led from the pitch by referee Ken Leach as scuffles broke out between fans in the North Stand and spilled onto the pitch.

Warnings were broadcast over the stadium's public address system that the game would be abandoned if order was not restored.

A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said a number of fans had been arrested after what she described as a "serious disturbance".

A major operation was mounted at the end of the game with riot police and dog handlers as well as mounted officers brought in to maintain order.

Stoke City fans Stoke City fans had earlier paid tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews
Stoke City supporters blamed Wigan Athletic fans for not showing respect for Sir Stanley during the one minute's silence.

Andy Clunes, from Stoke, said: "They were asked to be quiet but some fans were still shouting 'Come on, Wigan' during the tribute.

"They showed no respect and this made the Stoke fans angry," he said.

Mark Jones, 24, of Stoke, claimed some of the home supporters were booing.

"During the silence there were boos from the Wigan fans and that was why the fighting started," he said.

But Wigan Athletic supporters said the trouble was sparked off by Stoke followers sitting in the North Stand, which is reserved for home fans.

Sir Stanley Matthews Wing wizard Sir Stanley Matthews
In other grounds up and down the country the minute's silence was immaculately observed.

Sir Stanley died on Wednesday, aged 85, after a short illness at North Staffordshire Nuffield hospital.

The first professional footballer to be knighted, his career spanned an incredible 36 years.

He was still playing in the old First Division as a 50-year-old.

Sir Stanley played for England from the age of 19 to 42, winning 54 England caps and was the first Englishman to be named European Footballer of the Year, a feat he achieved twice.

His funeral, which is being arranged by Stoke City Football Club and his family, is expected to take place next week.

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See also:
26 Feb 00 |  Sport
Fans pay tribute to Sir Stanley
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Football legend Matthews dies
23 Feb 00 |  Football
The first gentleman of soccer
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Football world mourns Matthews
24 Feb 00 |  Football
The Matthews Final
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Motson's boyhood memories of Matthews
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Sir Stanley in pictures
26 Feb 00 |  Sport
Fans pay respects to Sir Stanley

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